Monday Memory: First purpose-built schoolhouse
A two-storey red-brick building

By Nick Yates, ISB Communications

This building might not look like much compared to the campus of 2021, but it was a significant upgrade for the International School of Beijing (ISB) when it moved in in late November 1981.

“This was the first time ISB was housed under one roof,” according to Susan Ritter, wife of John Ritter, ISB’s director from 1981 to 1985.

In its earliest stages, ISB’s classes took place dotted around a diplomatic apartment compound. The small but growing group of international students and teachers needed a dedicated space.

“This is a picture of the first purpose-built school structure ISB inhabited,” said Susan. “It was part of the ‘San Ban’ U.S. Embassy compound, earlier the Pakistani Embassy. When the Chinese government built the Pakistanis a new embassy, the compound was allotted to the U.S. government.

“This complex was right across the street from the U.S Embassy’s ‘Er Ban,’ where some of the school had been sheltered up until the move. In the last hours of the school day, with snow gently falling, each of the older children picked up their desks and marched across the street and into their new schoolhouse.”

We’re grateful for Susan’s recollections as ISB continues to mark its 40th anniversary through a range of events in the 2020-2021 school year. Lots of former community members have been looking back fondly. Thank you to all those who submitted photos and stories about ISB and made this ‘Monday Memory’ series of articles possible. Look out for some of this material being included in the upcoming Celebrating 40 Memory Book and Exhibition.

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